In case you didn’t know, or you are new here, I am an artist and when I do drawings for clients some of them have deadlines so that means drawing, sometimes but not often, when I’m not particularly inspired in order to get it done on time. I am always inspired by something, though, and I’m either doing little sketches, full drawings, or at least writing about it in my journal most everyday. And I love to write hand-written letters to friends as well, so I’m never without pen and paper close by.
So a couple of months ago I began having pain in my right wrist and into my thumb off and on mainly when I would lift something heavy with that hand but also at night after drawing all day. As time went on I would occasionally wake up with my thumb joint locked. It would snap painfully when I’d try bend it until it loosened up, be sore for a few minutes and then feel okay. So I did some reading about “trigger finger” or “trigger thumb” and tried not to lift anything or strain my thumb. Otherwise, I continued doing everything else as usual including typing, writing, drawing and drawing some more.
During November and December I draw a lot more than usual but I had no idea that I was over-working my right thumb. Apparently I was. I use mainly graphite, color pencil and pen & ink in my work so that means holding these small objects for a long time at one sitting. I also have discovered that I am holding them too tightly as well as too long.
I also have discovered after questions from my doctor and physical therapist that I also tend to hold several other pens that I am not drawing with in my left hand as I work. I know, how did I just discover that fact? I have no idea. I’d just never paid any attention to it until they asked about why I had such little range of motion in my left pinky finger.
Unfortunately, I didn’t begin resting my hand nearly soon enough, so now I have to rest it all the time, have anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy and wear a splint. (In case you wonder how I am typing this its very slowly and not using my thumb for the space bar.)
Now to the reason for this little post . . . I don’t know what to do when I can’t write or draw. I used to think it was bad when I didn’t want to work on a particular piece but now that I can’t work on anything worse. Like, “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone,” kind of thing. I have been reading more and taking a few more photos than usual to help with creative withdrawal but that’s it and its not working.
I listen to music a lot but I’m usually doing something else at the same time so I have been spending a little more time just sitting quietly and really listening. It’s something that I always have done but not nearly enough lately. It makes me feel better but there’s still this emptiness. I need to put pen or pencil on paper!
I have a feeling that there’s a reason for this in some way. Maybe for me to learn something new like not to over do it even if there are deadlines. But for now I must ask those of you who read this, what do you do when you can’t do what you do?
March 10, 2012 at 10:21 pm
I have been fortunate enough (so far) to not have any work related injuries that have impaired me from doing my job. When I was a full time designer, spending all day at the computer I would occasionally get a very sore back or wrist. I had to plug through the pain as I needed to work to be paid. If I find myself in need of a break, whether it is to rest my limbs or mind, I do a lot of walking and organizing. I find nothing makes me feel more refreshed than those two activities.
I hope you mend quickly and can get back to your wonderful work. 🙂
March 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm
Hi Jeannine, I’m so sorry I hadn’t replied to this sooner. Now that I have been approved to use my hand some I hope to be writing here more.
Thanks so much for sharing what works for you. I did read this when you posted it and have been doing some much needed organizing of my work space. I have managed to make it more comfortable and fun to be in. And the walking, I know I need to do more of that. It helps me feel better and makes my dog beyond happy when we go on walks!